It is a common belief that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a rare condition which affects only a few, but the fact is that one in ten women in New Zealand and 10% of estimated in the child-bearing age around the world suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder especially among pre-menopausal women, however many still don’t know much about the condition. This condition prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg each month which results in tiny, cyst-like formations on the ovaries. For most women, the underlying cause of this is insulin resistance.
Some of the most common symptoms in women identified with PCOS are acne, irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth, scalp hair loss, skin pigmentation (darkening of skin) , infertility or reduced fertility, obesity or weight gain and / or difficulty in losing weight.
Studies have identified women with PCOS have a significantly lower basal metabolic rate than women without the condition which means that they burn less energy. This could explain why women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight and seem to find it harder to lose weight.
Most women who suffer with PCOS think there is no actual way to prevent this happening ; however the fact is that you can. It is advisable that you should always consult a health professional before leading or making any changes.
It all begins with your diet, although poor dietary intake cannot be the lone cause for PCOS, the chances of developing this condition are higher especially if you already are at risk due to your genetic make up. Eratic dietary patterns can affect your chances of developing insulin resistance and obesity which are directly linked to PCOS too.
If identified with this condition, it is imminent that you change your dietary habits, limit your intake of saturated fats and simple sugars. Choose lean meats and shave of the skin from your chicken, include more fish and pick low fat dairy products. During each meal your plate should include a variety of different coloured vegetables and salads. Replace processed grain foods with high fibre, low-GI variety including heavy whole grain bread, oats and cracked wheat. Include fruits and nuts in your snacks.
Eating the right foods can help to improve insulin resistance, potentially reducing your risk of developing long-term health problems linked with PCOS. Another area that needs a major change is reducing your sugar and carbohydrate intake, especially if you consume these in excess of the recommended amounts.
Insulin levels can also be controlled by switching from three meals a day pattern to smaller and regular meals or snacks. This can also help with some weight loss if you combine it with exercise.
Although diet is a major contributing factor towards managing PCOS, it has to be associated with other lifestyle changes too. Physical activity has been identified with having a significant impact on the condition. If you are daignosed with PCOS then, aim to include moderate to intensive activities like walking, running and dancing along with resistance training. You should indulge in physical activities as many times during the week as possible and each session should range between 30 to 45 minutes, please consult a health professional before intitiating any activity.
Overall a good combination of diet and exercise can help in managing the impacts caused by PCOS.
Till next time be healthy and eat wise.
This article is a general guideline ONLY, for individual medical condition and needs you should consult a health professional or your medical practitioner immediately.
Varsha Asrani is a New Zealand registered clinical dietitian, for personal consultations, queries, suggestions and feedback she can be contacted on email@example.com